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Online daters warned to be vigilant after new police figures show victims of romance fraud lost more than £3m over 12-month period

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ONLINE daters are being urged to be on their guard after new figures revealed victims of so-called "romance fraud" were conned out of more than £3m in Hampshire over a year.

The latest figures for the county and the Isle of Wight showed a total of 262 reports between November 2020 and October 2021, with those most at risk being women aged between 50 and 59.

As part of a new campaign, Hampshire Constabulary is asking the friends and family of those using such sites, which can also include social media platforms, to keep in close contact with loved ones and look out for any warning signs.

A total of 262 reports were made between November 2020 and October 2021 in the county
A total of 262 reports were made between November 2020 and October 2021 in the county

Furthermore, they can help ensure adequate privacy settings are in place to prevent strangers gaining access to personal information.

DI Andy Symes, of Hampshire’s serious and organised crime unit, said: “Romance fraud occurs when you think you have met the perfect partner online but they are using a fake profile to form a relationship with you.

“They gain your trust over a number of weeks or months and have you believe you are in a loving and caring relationship. However, the criminal’s end goal is only ever to get your money or personal information."

The force said criminals often use a range of believable stories to coerce victims into transferring them money without raising suspicion. Those who have been duped found it hard to say no because of their emotional attachment.

Examples of such stories include needing money for travel to visit the victim, for emergency medical expenses or lucrative investment opportunities. Scammers could also pretend to be military personnel or work overseas.

Those who believe they may have been a victim of this type of fraud should contact their bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting actionfraud.police.uk

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